African Roots: Traditional medicine practice systems under threat

Faith healers also believe that bad spirits are easily removed under the Hissing tree
Faith healers also believe that bad spirits are easily removed under the Hissing tree

Friday Chisanyu

In traditional medicine practice systems, there are traditional pharmacologists, these are spirits who are the source of information in identifying different problems and medicines.

On the second line they are also herbalists and others who have adopted the experience to practice traditional medicine from their social group or through studies. This will also include veterinary medicines with their personal understanding of the health of their livestock and environments. Traditional medicine practice knowledge is also the social capital of the poor. Their main asset to invest in the struggle for survival is to produce food, treatments, provide shelter and to achieve control of their own lives and the land. Nowadays traditional medicine practice systems are at risk because of fast changing natural environments, foreign products, cultural changes on global scale, economic and political issues.

When talking of traditional medicine we are talking of more than a drug. There are some trees which are being used for different purposes – food, medicines for preventions and treatments, immune booster for the body, luck charms, among others.

In Zimbabwe we have one tree called Muhacha or Hissing tree, it has dark green leaves and oval fruits.

This tree is used to treat TB patients by using its dried leaves as tea. Most traditional medical practitioners and the community have a lot of experience in using this tree from knowledge obtained from their elders.

This tree is also used as a luck charm and to bring back lost lovers.

Both traditional healers and faith healers have a high belief in the muhacha tree, it is the most sacred tree. Conservation of muhacha tree is highly recognized by both Christians and non-Christians.

Faith healers believe that if they pray under a muhacha tree they will be heard by God. This is done by most of the healing churches when they pray for their problems.

Faith healers also believe that bad spirits are easily removed under the Hissing tree.

Traditional healers also sometimes send their patients to appease their spirits under the Hissing tree. Sometimes sacrifices are also done under the same tree.

The tree is also used to protect homesteads from evil spirits.Some Christians use it to make the holy cross.

The Hissing tree is also used on people who have problems conceiving. It is also used as immune booster. Sometimes the roots are used to treat STDs, ears and python bites.

The seeds of this tree are both fruit and medicine.

The Hissing tree is believed to be associated with good cultural values in the African religion.

There is no treatment that is more powerful than natural treatment, it is more comprehensive because it includes food, prevention and cure in both humans and animals. The natural treatment is cheaper and is always available at lower cost with no side effects feared by most people in modern medicine.


Friday Chisanyu is the president of Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association(ZINPA).

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